Fourth-year Men’s Cross Country captain Joe Gentsch was awarded SUNYAC Player of the Week honor after his performance at the Vassar Invitational for the second year in a row.
Gentsch said that the invitational proved to be more difficult than he previously expected.
“During the first mile, some kid started hanging on my shoulder and he just kept pushing to try and catch up to me,” Gentsch said, “then, toward the end, I thought I put him away, but I didn’t and when he sprinted past me in the last 100 meters, I thought I was going to lose the race.”
As the race came to an end, Gentsch pushed forward and continued on.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m not letting him beat me, and I just sprinted through to the end,’” he said.
Having won the Vassar Invitational last year, Gentsch had confidence going into the race. However, he did give credit to his competition, calling his opponent “determined.”
As the captain of the Cross Country team, Gentsch said that he hopes to change the style that his team runs in to continue their success.
“Right now we are in our building stage,” he said. “My teammates spread apart but I want to get them to run together. It’s easier to run with a group of guys than all strung out, so hopefully we’ll do better as a team in the competition.”
As for himself, Gentsch said that he set goals before the season, one of which is attacking much differently than in years past. He believes that it is helping him continue his success.
Another goal of Gentsch’s this season is to qualify for nationals by pacing himself in a way that improves his performance as well as that of his team.
Michael Trunkes, Gentsch’s coach, encourages Gentsch’s goals.
“Our hope is that we’ll see him developing his mid-race performances so he can maintain a relaxed state at a high level of intensity and then come in and be able to out-kick the competition,” Trunkes said.
Last year, the earlier meets at Vassar and at Bard were emphasized as more important for him to do well. Since then, he has set his goals much higher, looking forward to regionals, nationals and even further down the line to the Olympic trials.Coach Trunkes sees no reason why Gentsch could not acomplish what he what he sets his mind his mind to.
“He is an exceptional athlete,” Trunkes said. “Our goal for him this year is to be a top finisher at SUNYACs, but also to be a top finisher at the regional meet so that we can get him qualified to go to nationals.”
Last year, Gentsch finished as an all-SUNYAC runner, getting the honor in a conference that includes such teams as Plattsburgh, Geneseo and Cortland.
Gentsch started his athletics career at New Paltz by playing on the Men’s Soccer Team. But after being discovered by Trunkes and later committing to cross country, Gentsch has never looked back.
“It’s definitely more personal. With running, it’s all up to you. It’s all about how much you put into it and I put much more into running than I ever put into soccer,” he said.
Though his time as an undergrad at New Paltz is coming to an end, Gentsch is clear about his post-graduation plans, “I’m going to keep running and I’m going right to the Olympics.”